COOKING IT UP AT BLUE APRON – CORPORATE

Blue Apron has experienced difficulty making a go of it since its IPO in 2017; the stock has been in steady decline since its original offering of $10/share.

The company’s provision of meal kits for food preparation is always a tempting option (no shopping involved and great meals as a result), but few people seem to have the time to actually put the meal together – that is, to cook – which is still required.  And, then there’s been the competition as a result of Amazon’s buying Whole Foods along with a surge in online delivery options for prepared foods.  Recently, two primaries at the company – the CEO Bradley Dickerson and Chief Technology Officer Ilia Papas – have announced their departures.  Dickerson is to be succeeded by Linda Kozlowski as CEO.  Kozlowski brings an excellent background in operations, having served as COO at Etsy and Evernote and a prior three years running global operations for Alibaba.  The WSJ describes her as the “ideal turnaround candidate” but questions why she would want the job.  Kozlowski’s press release seems to answer the question – something along the lines of the Wells-Fargo position we talked about yesterday – she states that she “feels it is an exciting time to be joining Blue Apron.”  So, there’s a theory making the rounds that the “Glass Cliff philosophy” of business is in play here.  In case readers feel the need to look that phrase up, the Glass Cliff philosophy holds that women are more likely to be recruited and hired for high level positions when the odds for failure seem high.  (It’s a play on the “Glass Ceiling” idea but with the belief that instead of reaching a ceiling to stop them, the women hired in tricky situations will instead be likely to be pushed off a cliff.) There appears to be some data to support the  theory that women are hired into situations which might seem hopeless, but I’d still put those assumptions in the “speculative” column.  Further, there is a possibility that since leadership positions for women are somewhat rare (24 companies in the S&P 500 have women as their CEOs), then when a position comes up that seems a possibility for hiring a woman, the woman is likely to be willing to take that chance and view it as a career opportunity.  Certainly, for a company that was well-known to be floundering and for which the former CEO was unable to right the ship, it would be my assumption that being unable to do the same, as a woman, would not be a serious liability for future career opportunities.  On the other hand, I would be willing to further speculate that there’s a lot of room for growth and change at the company, and someone who is absolutely dedicated to making that happen and who has a strong background in operations, just might well be able to bring it off.  Here’s to Kozlowski’s success – we’ll follow her progress.  It’s just possible that the company might begin to be engaged in enterprises other than solely those of meal-preparation kits.

ALL THE MOVING PARTS – It’s the CEO at the company that can make all the difference in the outcomes and continuing success.

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